2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake & Tsunami

A 9.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the bottom of the Indian Ocean, on Dec. 26, 2004, and triggered one of the deadliest tsunamis ever recorded.

The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake, the largest earthquake in almost half a century, caused massive destruction in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, the Maldives and the Eastern coast of Africa.

Considered the deadliest earthquake of the 21st century, the quake sent waves across the Indian Ocean as high as 50 feet crashing onto the shores of 11 countries. According to the U.S. Geological survey, 227,898 people died when many were swept out to sea or drowned in their homes, unable to escape.

The Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and the Indonesian Tsunami (also known as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, South Asian tsunami, Indonesian tsunami, and Boxing Day tsunami), combined killed more than 230,000 people. Numerous others were injured and more than a million were missing. Billions of dollars in damages were reported.

The earthquake and tsunami affected many countries in Southeast Asia including:

  • Indonesia
  • Sri Lanka
  • India
  • Thailand
  • The Maldives
  • Somalia
  • Myanmar
  • Malaysia
  • Seychelles

The aftermath left more dead as diseases began to spread. Water supplies were disrupted and contaminated, making clean drinking water a scarce resource and sanitation facilities and sewage treatment works were damaged, contributing to diarrhoeal disease outbreaks. Diseases such as salmonellosis, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, and shigellosis were feared, particularly in the overcrowded temporary camps for displaced victims.

Indonesia was the hardest-hit country, followed by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. Many other countries, such as U.S.A., Australia and those in Europe, lost citizens who were traveling in the region on vacation. Sweden and Germany both lost more than 500 citizens each.